It’s really hard to explain my feelings right now, I’ve been in a daze pretty much all weekend.
Saturday morning, I woke to a message. ‘Oh No. Taylor Hawkins’ with a broken heart emoji. I wiped my eyes and scrambled to the news sites, Immediately I saw the statement issued on Foo Fighters social media. The brief flicker of hope that this was a mistake was extinguished just like that. Since then I have seen an outpouring of love like never before.
How can I grieve and mourn a man, i’ve never met, who didn’t even know I existed? How can I feel a hole so big, over ultimately, a face in a magazine, a person on a video screen. Sure I’ve been in the same room as him, but these were pretty big rooms, or fields, and whilst I was focused solely on him and his bandmates, I was ‘just a face in a crowd, a tiny hole in a cloud’ as Feeder once eloquently put it.
Let me take you back, almost 21 years, to #V2001, the 18th August 2001, Hylands Park in Staffordshire. My girlfriend at the time was a huge, huge Red Hot Chili Peppers fan, my long time schoolfriend Barry was the keyboard player in Starsailor, so we decided to jump in the car and sleep over in the car park, it was only one night, so why not. I’d not really been engrossed in music until my early twenties, well, live music anyway. The lineup was scattered with familiar names now, but back then, I think the most notable ones in my head were Kylie Minogue and Nelly Furtado, that’s where I lived back then.
As the day progressed, we wandered aimlessly between stages, I saw Starsailor and met up with Barry, and we made our way to the main stage as the sun began to set, wanting to get a decent vantage point for RHCP. The band on before them, were the ‘Foo Fighters’ I liked their name, so that was a start. As they hit the stage, I was instantly mesmerised, this ‘normal’ looking frontman, in a world dominated by long haired grungy types. At one point a small moshpit formed near where we were stood, this frontman, oozing charisma, stopped the show. Got the crew to shine a spotlight to this area, and told them to go to the front and middle if they wanted to mosh. Foo fighters were rock and roll, but they also gave a shit. Dave Grohl said he wouldn’t play another note until they moved and everyone took a step back so no one got crushed.
For what it’s worth, RHCP came on late that night in their headline slot, and truth be told, they were blown off the stage by the Foos. They may have been a bigger name, but they absolutely were not a better act for me.
So, that’s where it began. I followed them avidly since. Another Foo’s tale was not long after their album ‘One by One’ was released. They announced a stadium tour and I was tasked with getting tickets for my girlfriend, and her best friend and his gf, (mainly because I got a 25% discount with my bank account). I desperately wanted standing tickets and sadly the Manchester gig only had seated. I wracked my brain and checked the tour, the next closest one was the Telewest arena in Newcastle, joy, they had standing tickets left. I got four and broke the good and bad news to everyone. I was driving anyway, so no one could really complain.
We arrived at the arena in good time, found a decent spot, and agreed a meeting point in case we got split up. We watched the support, ‘Cave-in’; got drinks and made our way back for the main event. I edged further forwards and of course, I lost my group. I was about twenty rows back, as the crowd packed in. Now, I’m not sure if youre familiar with the song ‘All my life’ but the intro has these repetitive guitar chords that build until Taylor Hawkins unleashes that incredible sound on the drums, the arena had this huge Foo’s curtain with the album logo displayed and the guitars played for what seemed like forever. The tension and fervour of the fans was amplified as the band’s silhouettes were lit up behind the curtain.
As the drums hit, the curtain dropped and an almighty surge carried me to the front. My feet were off the ground, I had zero control, I was clamped between bodies, with this euphoric sound playing out in front of me. I didn’t panic too much, but I had lost control. I looked to my right and the girl I was stood next to, probably only 5’3 or so, looked at me in sheer panic as she started to go under as the crowd surged. I hooked my arm under her armpit, and lifted her as best I could, keeping her from being trampled and serious injury. As the wave of people finally swayed backwards I mouthed to her ‘Do you need to get out’ she nodded, and with help from the guy behind her, we lifted her above us and pushed her towards the security at the barriers. They grabbed her and took her to the side and that was that. I never planned on being so close but as they belted out the songs I knew and loved, including ‘The One’ which was a song I was desperate to see, I was lost for 2 hours.
At the end of the gig, saturated in sweat in my Houston Astros ringer tee (the closest I could get to Daves ‘Diablo’ one) , I ventured to the sound desk, the meeting point we’d agreed and saw my group. Just as I got there, I heard a squeal ‘THAT’S HIM THERE’ and felt a thud on my back. The girl i’d helped was proudly showing me off to her friends, ‘He SAVED MY LIFE’. I am not sure about that, but the initial panic I felt faded away.
There have been many memories over the years, my musical tastes have ebbed and flowed, but the Foo’s have always remained, like a trusty old dog, never letting me down. I’ve bonded with people over them, Cheryl has become one of my best friends (sure we connect over Rugby and F1 too) but the Foo’s was always the main thing, Carolyna as well. All three of us watched the Foos lockdown gig together when they played in LA.
My heart goes out to anyone affected by Taylor’s untimely death. A drummer in one of the best drummer ever’s band. That’s some accolade. His wife and children will be devastated. I am a catholic, no longer practising, but I do believe in some aspects of religion, however once again my faith is challenged. How can Dave Grohl, one of the nicest men on the planet by all accounts, be subjected to loss again in such a cruel manner. It’s simply not fair. He’s lost his bandmate, best friend, and ‘brother’ once again. He has the biggest heart but that simply means he will hurt the most too.
Regardless of the reasons behind Taylor’s passing, I will fondly remember him as a real life ‘Animal’ from the muppets, with the biggest grin. His music will stay with me forever. I will never EVER take a gig for granted again, esopecially when it’s one of my favourite bands, as you never know if that cymbal crash, will be the last one you hear from them.
Rest in peace Taylor. You will be forever missed.